Spiritual Inventory 2 – Relationship with God
January 2nd, 2022

This week we’re picking up where we left off in talking about taking a _____________ end of the year inventory. 

What does it mean to ________with the Lord in relationship with Him? 

We’re Created to be in Relationship with God

See Gen 2:8-9; 15.  Gen 2:31 And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.  Mankind, along with all of creation was declared “Very _______” by God.  God didn’t just leave them in the Garden and say “have a nice life, Adam and Eve”!  He _________ them there.  Genesis 3:8 tells us 8 Now they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, So, it was God’s _____________ to visit Adam and Eve in the cool of the day (likely early morning). 

Our reaction:  hiding

But, what is Man’s reaction to God’s ___________________ to walk with Him?  It is a consistent _________________ of God’s invitation Even Adam and Eve, who were ___________________ filled with delight that they were going to get to spend time with God when they heard the sound of God walking in the Garden had a very different reaction after sin had entered their lives.  We see it very clearly in Genesis 3:8b and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  In fact it is only through God’s gift of the faith to believe that ANY of us ______________ to the drawing of the Holy Spirit, and come to faith in Christ.

 Even we Christians fill our time with empty activities like television, video games, hobbies, and other activities.  All of these can be a serious drain on our time if we’re not careful—and much of it is procrastination as we do ______________ else rather then get alone with God and get real with God.  We know that there are areas in our lives where we fall _________, and we’ll do about anything rather than letting God deal with them and change our hearts. 

Our reaction:  the blame game

In Genesis chapter 3, beginning in 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me some of the fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 

Put Faith into Action

So, What do those that walk with God have in common?  Enoch Gen 5:24 24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.  The picture here is that Enoch was in ________ with God for those 300 years, obeying God and loving Him.  Noah.  Gen 6:9  These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.  Noah _________ God when He said that he would destroy the earth with a flood.  And Noah put his faith into ___________.  Constructing the ark was no small task—it probably took decades to build.  Walking with the Lord means putting faith into __________.  

Patient Endurance

We need patient endurance to finish this race, There are _________ in the way.  The first hurdle is ______.  Fear was Adam and Eve’s emotion as they tried to face God in their sins, and their reaction was to ________.  Fear is the first enemy of _________.  The fear of what other people think should never prevent us from obeying the Lord (see 1 Sam 15:24; John 9:22). If Noah had felt that way, he would have never built that ark.  Psalm 91 speaks of the one who “dwells in the shelter of the Most High” and who says of God, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (verses 1–2). Fear has a way of telling you that you can’t do it, that you’re not good enough, not strong enough. But, in good times and in bad times, we look to God for our _____________. Phil 4:13  13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  You are able to overcome, __________ of Christ’s strength in you.  It doesn’t ________ on you! God makes you ________ than enough. 

Gal 6:9 tells us not to grow tired as we do God’s will for our lives:  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Good things take _______ and that we won’t often see immediate results.  But that doesn’t mean our efforts are ____________.  It takes time and patience, but when you finally reap a harvest, it is well _________ the effort!

We need perseverance to finish this race.  Hebrews 12:1 tells us to run with perseverance:  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

The biggest thing standing in the way of doing God’s will with our lives after fear is _______.  It trips up our feet so that we can’t run.  Sin will mess up your ability to _________ from God, and __________ Him and do His will.  If we _____________ our sins to God He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. 

Our patient perseverance has a purpose.  Romans 5:3-4 lets us know that Perseverance Produces Character:  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  It doesn’t do us any good to dwell on our inadequacies, and to fixate on the fact that we haven’t _______________ yet.  It just discourages us.  Even if we fail sometimes, we can let God dust us off and pick us up.  When we face difficult things in our life, we always have a choice:  we can give up or go ______________ and grow in character. 

Remember that we are not alone in our Journey.  God both goes before us and is our rear guard behind us.  In Deuteronomy 31:8 we are reminded that we’re not walking alone  The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  In2 Corinthians 4:16-18 we are reminded Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  God sees the whole picture.  The things we see are just a tiny ___________ of the big picture.

If you need hope in as you walk with God, get in your prayer closet, and get in your bible.  Romans 15:4   reminds us For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.  All of those accounts in the Bible of God’s servants who faced ______________ difficult situations and still made the ___________ to keep moving forward in faith, without knowing what the __________ would be are there for our instruction and our good.  Job did all the _________ things, but faced difficult situations and praised God in the midst of them. Paul was ________________over and over again, beaten, shipwrecked and he still chose to praise God and continue his work.  Jesus, of course, is the ultimate example of patient endurance. He did ___________ wrong and still went through adversity, pain, and hardship…for all for us.

Year-End Inventory, Part 1
December 26th, 2021

At the end of the year, business owners are busy taking an end of the year ________________.  First, it means taking a look at the inventory count.  Next, an _________________ is made of any inventory discrepancies.  Then, a _____________ is made to see if the discrepancy is in the spreadsheets or software being used, or whether there are really things missing—the dreaded audit.  Then the stock records and spreadsheets are _____________ to match the physical inventory of goods on hand.  And last, the information is used to make _________________ for the coming year, project what items are needed to begin the new year, and place orders to obtain what’s needed.  It’s not a fun process, but it’s absolutely ______________ to determine whether a business has made a ___________ or not during the previous year. 

The Bible encourages us again and again to mind the __________ of our business.  Proverbs 27:23 says  Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds;  So, if God is concerned with diligence in the conduct of our business affairs, how much more-so the ___________ of our hearts. 

Count your Spiritual Inventory

First and foremost, are you in the faith?

In 2nd Corinthians, Paul spends a couple of chapters addressing a specific issue that’s relevant to conducting a ___________ spiritual inventory.  Paul says that they should be able to see with their spiritual eyes that he is speaking the Word of God in ________ to them.  Paul points to his continual urging of them to ________ in the truth.  It is not ___________ signs and miracles, but the inward condition of Paul’s heart as evidenced by the way that he lives his life that is the true evidence of salvation.  Paul wants Jesus to be _______________, not himself.  He’s saying, don’t spend your time ____________ everything and everyone around you.  Instead, make sure you yourself are in the faith.  So, our first step in taking a spiritual inventory is to focus not outward on other people’s walk, but to look at our ________.  It’s not the easiest thing to do.  We need help—we are hopelessly biased toward seeing _________________ with rose-colored glasses. 

Make sure that you are in the Faith

After Paul encouraged the Corinthians to turn their gaze inward instead of outward, Paul’s first priority is to tell them in 2 Cor 13:5 to 5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

So, the first priority is to make sure that you are in the __________—that you are saved, redeemed by God through Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for your sins which allows you to stand justified before God.  We need to put our ___________ in Him—our very Existence, everything that we are.  And that means that we are living for Him.  And if we’re living for Him, there will be __________________in our life!  James 2:18-20: 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Overcoming the World—true faith means understanding that God is God, and therefore it means obedience.  In 1 John 5:2-3 we read 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; So, we see that the evidence of the faith is _______________ to God! 

If we are saved, we have the ___________ of God within us, and we should believe Him and put our trust in Him.  1 John 5:10-12  10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; …12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  We can know, and God wants us to know that we are His  God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can know for sure that we are saved.  Paul says in Ephesians 1:13-14 13 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, 14 who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.  We have a pledge concerning our salvation! We walk out this faith in our lives of _______________, not through obligation to the Law as in the Old Testament, but in __________________ of the Law by obedience to God out of love for Him.  As Romans 8:4 tells us:  4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.   And we have the Witness of God as Romans 8:16 tells us:  16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, Do you see that the refusal to be a slave to sin, how our ______________ the sinful world around us is ______________ on the Holy Spirit, and how our overcoming provides ongoing ______________ to us of the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in our hearts? 

1 Corinthians 12:3: “No one can say, Jesus is Lord! except in the Holy Spirit.”  And our ability to say that Jesus is our Lord is evidence to us, not in our questioning mind or our changeable emotions, but in our spirit.  But we’re only going to be successful in continually doing this if Jesus really is the Lord of our Lives.  Jesus Himself said In luke 6:46-7 46 “Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them,  is the one who truly builds His life on a solid foundation that cannot be overcome.  Obedience is God’s ________ Language!

Let the Lord search

David the Psalmist, so many times cries out for God to examine him, knowing that he needed help from the Lord to truly see himself accurately  Psalm 26:6 2 Examine me, Lord, and put me to the test; Refine my mind and my heart.  And of course in Psalm 139:23-24 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there is any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.  So let’s take some time to take an honest look at our lives spiritually over the last year.  It will help our spiritual ___________, our relationship with God, our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and with our friends and family.

Luke 2:1-7: Jesus Born in Bethlehem, and in our Hearts
December 19th, 2021

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Caesar Augustus had brought the Roman Republic so much under his _____________, that finally he had transformed it into the Roman Empire.  Now in saying that the census covered the world, literally the inhabited land.  By which they meant inhabited by Roman citizens as opposed to barbarians—the whole ____________ world.  Luke is using the common language for an ___________ that covered the whole Roman empire.    

And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

But in the hands of God, this Emperor was just a __________.  God needed to get Mary, who was nine months pregnant to make a journey of about 75 miles overland from Nazareth to Bethlehem, so that prophecy could be _________________.  The prophecies of God are always fulfilled, completed from the time they’re spoken.  Typically, Romans registered people in the place they were living, just like we do today, not by where their ancestors lived.  It could very well be that Herod disguised the Roman Census as an appeal to tribal patriotism amongst the Jews, asking them to return to their tribal homes to be counted, and so Joseph returned to the City of David as the ancestral home of that branch of the tribe of Judah.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

Bethlehem Ephrathah was just a small city, likely about 300-1000 inhabitants.  But this city of Ruth and Naomi, Boaz, and of course David was where God had said that the _______________ would be born, and this one prophecy effectively ________________ all other cities and towns throughout the world as a place in which the Messiah could be born.

Now Mary and Joseph were both of the House of David, so they would be going back to their __________________ home of Bethlehem.  Justin Martyr tells the Roman government about Micah’s prophecy and about the little town of Bethlehem in his 1st Apology defending the faith (chapter 34) saying:  “Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Jesus Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judæa.”  So in A.D. 156 or so, the physical tax ____________ was still able to be looked up in the Roman Archives.

in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

So, we know from verse 5 that Joseph and Mary travelled ________________ for the census.  This verse emphasizes the ___________________ between Mary and Joseph, since it indicates that Mary would not want to give birth without Joseph being there.  Mary was still in _____________ as a woman who had become pregnant before marriage.  Mary was safe as long as it was clear that Joseph was _______________ responsibility for the family, and that meant she needed to stay with him. 

 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

Jesus arrived at the exact day and hour he was supposed to.  He arrived at___________, so the shepherds could receive their visitation from the angels who pointed them to Jesus.  Thousands of years of waiting for the Messiah, but ___________________ when God’s timing was fulfilled, everything happened. 

God doesn’t usually ___________ Himself to us.  Our job is just to wait on the Lord and ________ Him that He will see things through.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son;

Mary gives birth to her ___________________ son.  Mary and Joseph had ________ children later.  The mention that Jesus is the firstborn lets us know why we find Mary and Joseph and Jesus at the _____________ 40 days later in Luke 2:23-24.

But, Luke is also stating clearly that Jesus is the firstborn son of a Davidic family in the ruling line, and therefore a ___________ right to inherit David’s throne, along with inheritance rights from Joseph.   

and she wrapped Him in cloths

Wrapping newborns in strips of cloth, or swaddling, is not only an ancient practice to us today, but was an _______________ practice to Mary and Joseph as well.  It helped ______________ the baby to the shepherds who were looking for him.  In Luke 2:12, when the angels announced the birth to the shepherds, they told them “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

and laid Him in a manger,

Jesus was laid in a manger, a feed trough, so therefore likely in a room designed to accommodate ______________. 

because there was no room for them in the inn.

And it would be quite possible that there was no room in the guest rooms of people’s houses, because David had a lot of _____________________, and there were a lot of people crowding into this small town for the census. 

Ancient tradition associates the birth of Jesus with a _________.  Both Jerome and Paulinus of Nola mention a desecration.  This indicates that the cave was a sacred site to Christians before the 2nd or 3rd century. 

God, knowing that man would ________, knowing that He would have to send Jesus to Earth, and knowing that each and every person that Jesus _________________ would be a sinner, knew that humble beginnings would best prepare Jesus for His mission.  Romans 5:8 puts it like this: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Bethlehem, this little, seemingly insignificant town, only gained prominence because it was a place of God’s ________________. 

No-one made room for them.  When we’re _______________________ in our own surroundings, the tendency is not to make room for Jesus—and maybe that’s why we find ourselves so rarely in comfortable surroundings!  Sometimes it takes these _______________ circumstances to wake us up to our need for Him.

How many times have you been so concerned about how God was going to solve a problem you’re praying about, and then are amazed that God, once you gave it over to His provision, ___________________ provided the solution?  God is waiting for is for us to realize that should be ____________ on Him to meet our needs according to His will.  His _________________ is more than we could have hoped for.